Category Archives: Careers

Joining the IT industry from a non-IT background

Maya Modi

 

 

I graduated in BSc English Language from Aston University in 2016 with the intention to study Medicine post-graduation. I’m now an I.T Consultant.

 
 

 

 

I know what you’re thinking and trust me, they are linked. In this blog post, I hope that my story inspires you to consider post-graduate career options that are out of the box. You’d be surprised how fitting your work and academic experience to date can be in an industry you had never seen yourself working in before.

 

I chose to study English Language in preparation to do a Masters in Speech Pathology after – something I’d wanted to do for a good seven years now. I was dedicated and was lucky enough to secure lots of placements to support my application later. I also worked for the NHS at the time, which gave me real-time clinical experience. Speech Pathology is a small but vital sector within the allied health professionals unit of the NHS, but being exposed to trauma and other departments in the hospital made me fall in love with general medicine. I spent a lot of time deliberating whether I should drop out of my course in second year and reapply to Medical school, as there was no point continuing with my degree if I knew I didn’t want to use it for a Masters, like I had originally planned to.

Placement year arrived and I chose to continue with my degree, as I had just secured once in a life time study abroad placements in Spain and Hong Kong. They were the best, most challenging but amazing days of my university experience. As scary as it was to live in a country where I wasn’t fluent in the local language, I got through it and my bravery sparked a new level of ambition within me – I was definitely going to apply to Medical school. I thought my placement year would change my mind about applying, but, if anything, seeing how other people live in the world made me want it more.

Final year came around and I was busy studying for my finals and studying for my Med school entry exams too. On top of everything, there was a strong possibility that I may not get into Med school, so I was applying for my Masters as a backup route and applying to graduate schemes just to explore all options. There was no guarantee that any of these options would work out on their own, which is why I applied to all at the same time to see what route worked out best. I’m very much someone who needs to have a forward plan and cannot rely on chance (I’ve learned that it’s OK to be this way), so I did everything I could to ensure that I was either doing a postgrad degree or working upon my pending graduation. In this time, I visited lots of careers fairs to chat with delegates and explore the “what if?” options. I had some interesting conversations and some that put me off post grad working life altogether. One careers fair stood out to me in particular – a careers fair aimed at females looking to go into I.T, but with career discussions over afternoon tea. It was the most interesting concept for a careers fair and the most valuable to me – as it’s where I started my relationship with my current employer (and I got free cake!).

The delegates from Capgemini reassured me that I didn’t need to have a technical background to join a technology consultancy firm. My people skills, ability to work under pressure and quick learning skills that I developed from working in health were all factors that are required when consulting. Consulting can either take the route of being functional or technical, whereas it’s thought to be mostly technical. I applied to Capgemini shortly after the careers fair and to my surprise, I got the job. I accepted with the intention to still take my medical entry exams, but the option of not studying for another four years and adding to my tuition debt seemed more and more viable.

Now, it may seem as if my decision to drop the Doctor dream was money influenced, but hear me out. I realised that as a technology consultant, I can influence medical technologies to the NHS and work on projects that help to restructure their current business models, leading to efficient strategies. This is crucial to the NHS in the current state and unfortunately, as a doctor, I wouldn’t have as much of an influence at a business level as I do now. A year on at Capgemini and a ton of learning under my belt, I’m finally moving onto projects that will allow me to carry this out.

Sometimes, you have to reroute your plans to achieve your goals. I may not be a doctor and I do miss the patient contact, but my consulting is ultimately going to save lives and this is the most satisfying thing to me.

My Mentor Changed My Life..

Whilst everyone begins gearing up to face exams over the next couple of months, I have been reflecting upon all I have achieved during my second year at Aston University, a university that continues to do a wonderful job of providing its students with opportunities to enhance their employability skills and to excel expectations.

Yesterday I was awarded “Most Progressed Mentee” by the Aston University Professional Mentoring scheme, all thanks to the unwavering support of my excellent mentor Chris Lewis. A member of the Aston University Alumni himself, Chris’s outstanding advice and guidance has been pivotal to me in achieving my goals throughout this academic year.

With his support, some of my proudest accomplishments of the year (in no particular order) include:

  • Being voted as “Most Progressed Mentee of the Year” on the Aston University Professional Mentoring scheme.
  • Securing interviews with several companies and obtaining an industrial placement with Grant Thornton, with a team I’m looking forward to working with and values I am proud to represent!
  • Making it to the penultimate stage of Enterprise-Rent-A-Car’s Management Undergraduate of the Year Award, out of hundreds of applicants!
  • Participating in the Aston University Carbon Journey, and being one of the minority of students awarded 10 bonus credits for completing all components of a module named “Developing a Low Carbon World”, in which I learned about many aspects of climate-change and sustainability, from carbon capture technology to health policy and corporate responsibility.
  • Being Project Leader for one of the three projects on the Aston University Enactus Team. Over the past year, The VOICE Project has created memories that my team and I will always cherish, and whist we never fully obtained all the outcomes we had hoped to achieve, every single second of the countless hours we spent on the project have been worthwhile. The many real-life business and life skills we have learned along the way have far surpassed theoretical learning.
  • Being voted as “Most Dedicated Member of the Team” by the Enactus Aston Team with respect for the work I put as Project Manager for The VOICE Project.
  • Attending “IT’s Not Just for the Boys!” a professional event promoting female participation in the IT industry, hosted by JPMorgan in Canary Wharf in conjunction with Target Jobs.
  • Being granted a place on the University of Cambridge Judge Business School’s “Introduction to Social Ventures” course. I am still awestruck by how what I learned in those 3 days has been relevant to such a wide range of experiences this year.
  • Participating in the fabulous UpRising Leadership Programme, where I have been able to experience a host of diverse activities, from meeting with politicians in Parliament, to networking with local professionals and entrepreneurs, to building an awareness of media skills from podcasts to PR, all whilst developing a social action campaign along the way! Our team was successful in presenting our pitch and winning the funding required to start up our campaign SIGNPOST Birmingham, and we are now working on implementation.
  • Attending the Annual Enactus UK Training Programme at Grantham, where I attended several training sessions, as well as being able to meet with hundreds of outstandingly talented young people from across the country.

My mentor Chris’s boundless positivity and can-do attitude has spurred me on throughout the year. He has been patient and understanding, all whilst helping me to explore new ideas, stay on-track with my goals, and even to set a few more for the next academic year (learning as much as I can about the industry I will be working in, learning to drive, building a stronger network, gaining relevant certified qualifications/skills, and becoming a mentor myself, among others).

I can’t begin to recommend the Aston University Professional Mentoring programme highly enough, and I hope that some of you reading this might feel inspired to try it out for yourselves next year. I am happy to say that, whist the programme is now over for this year, my mentee/mentor journey has just begun!

Finding a Graduate Job 🎓

Hi guys, welcome to my first blog post 🙂

I’m Kiran, now an Aston graduate – YAY! I studied Business & Management and graduated in July. I am also very pleased to say that I secured a graduate role in the Careers+Placements team at Aston University, as Student Engagement Coordinator.

Job hunting

So, after my exams finished in May, I had a few weeks off to recuperate after years of studying! I then got my CV checked and approved by visiting a C+P drop-in session and meeting with a careers consultant (the C+P centre hold weekly drop-in sessions to help graduates with any career related queries, CV checks and tips etc.).

I then began applying for marketing related jobs on websites such as, Aston Futures, Graduate Advantage, Gradcracker, LinkedIn, and even sent personal emails to companies of interest.

The phone call

There I was lying on the couch, engrossed in an episode of ‘Breaking Bad’, when I got the call! It was a member of the C+P team inviting me for an interview – I was over the moon! 😀 After all of those endless applications I had finally got a call back.

Interview

On the day of my interview I ensured I wore smart clothes – black trousers and a white blouse – can’t go wrong. I made sure that I took a copy of my CV and my portfolio of previous work. I got to the interview ten minutes early (which seemed like forever because I was nervous). The interview went really well, I spoke about my achievements, previous jobs and education, and showcased some pieces of work from my portfolio. A question I find that always crops up in interviews is ‘how well can you work in a team?’, so make sure you always have an answer prepared.

My first day

I started work the following week, my first day was ace! I met so many friendly colleagues from the C+P team. I was given a handover and had some meetings with my team to bring me up to date with things. My manager and the team are so lovely and supportive. Since I’ve started I have been provided with daily updates and resources to make my job easier.

I have already got stuck into so much. I’ve been here three weeks and have already had a team away day which was so much fun, and I have a team lunch coming up.

So, I would like to congratulate those of you who have secured your graduate roles and best of luck to those still searching! Don’t worry it’s still not too late, keep at it and get in touch with the C+P team!

– Kiran 🙂

Life after graduation – yay or nay?

5 top tips to help with the transition.

Hey, guys!

I was having a scroll through the C+P blog as you do, and I’ve noticed that there’s lots of content and advice on here to do with placements and applying for graduate jobs in final year but what about life after graduation? Well fear not grads…I’m here to help fill that gap!

So you’ve just handed in your final assignment or completed your last ever university exam and you’re off to Gosta’s beer garden to chill in the sun with great company and plenty of drinks for the rest of the day. This feeling can only be described as somebody finally lifting the weight of about ¼ of the books stored in the library off your head allowing you to gracefully float upwards into the much-anticipated land of happiness and freedom. Mixed in with this mass feeling of euphoria, there is of course, a tinge of worry and a hint of apprehension about what the future holds for you along with the depressing thought of your cherished university friends that have had your back since fresher’s week going their separate ways. But meh…as far as you’re concerned you don’t need to be troubling yourself with that now, right? Definitely not! “C-E-L-E-B-R-A-T-E GOOD TIMES COME ON!”

A few months have passed since the post-final exam party extravaganza; you’ve been chilling, watching plenty of Netflix, a bit more Netflix…and then a little more, or you might have been on holiday or even gone travelling the world. Either way, when July comes along, this only means one thing…it’s time to graduate! Now, from my personal experience, I can honestly say that apart from preoccupying myself 40% of the time worrying about tripping up the stairs when my name was called, my robes being skew-whiff and my cap falling off, my graduation ceremony was a day I will definitely treasure for the rest of my life. All of my family were there to support me and the weather was glorious. The sun was perhaps a bit too enthusiastic come to think of it, 30-degree heat in long, thick black robes wasn’t ideal…but nevertheless my four years of hard work at university came down to this very day, I’d graduated, and I was feeling on top of the world.

But after the celebrations had passed, then it hit me…what next? A lot of my friends had secured graduate jobs and suddenly the realisation that I didn’t really have a plan in place after I graduated was becoming increasingly apparent. Perhaps like me, you weren’t really sure about what career you wanted to go into after university and most of your time was spent working on the dreaded dissertation to properly think about it.  You’ve worked extremely hard for the past three/four years and you want a job where you can practically apply the amazing skills and knowledge you’ve learnt from your degree, otherwise, there’s really not much point in that long life debt you’ve just given yourself. The reality of the matter is, life after graduation is tough. I was perhaps a little naïve coming out of university with my 1st class honours degree and placement experience under my belt thinking I’d be able to casually stroll into the first job that took my fancy. This was not the reality, the graduate market is increasingly competitive and I seemed to be getting rejection after rejection and just couldn’t figure out why.

Now, I’m going to stop right there for a minute, because this blog is starting to sound too whiny for my liking and I’m not a whiny person at all, I like to think I’m a pretty optimistic person the majority of the time.  The purpose of this blog wasn’t to put a downer on things and to have a moan about how difficult getting a job after graduation can be. The purpose of this blog was to say, yes life after graduation can be hard, but just because you haven’t landed your dream job straight away doesn’t mean that you won’t. It seemed to me whilst I was at university I was always bombarded with success stories about people landing amazing jobs with amazing companies straight after university but there never seemed to be support out there to tell people that that’s not the only option after graduating! As I was in a very different situation to this, at the time, I couldn’t help feeling a little sense of failure. After having time to reflect I’ve realised life isn’t a race and it’s completely okay to not be exactly where you want to be career-wise after graduating. For those of you in a similar position to me who are starting to feel disheartened – please don’t be.

I’m sharing my five top tips that kept my spirits and motivation high through this tough period – I hope you find them useful!

  1. Don’t compare yourself

As I said before, life really isn’t a race. If your best friend has landed a graduate scheme with a global corporate company, earning the big bucks and loving life (which they are probably exaggerating anyway) good for them. You need to take the time to focus on yourself and really think about your career options and the direction that you want to go in. Everybody is different. Don’t just apply to a graduate job to keep up with everybody else’s lifestyle, it has to be the right job for you, not just a job you think you SHOULD be doing.

  1. Persevere

As disheartening as it can be to keep applying for jobs and getting rejections, miracles don’t happen overnight. Success takes time, you have to be persistent and keep applying to things, sooner or later you will start to get a bit of luck (usually when you’re least expecting it!).

  1. Ask for feedback

When you’re applying for jobs and if your application or interview didn’t quite make the cut, one of the things that is going to be most beneficial to you is to understand where you went wrong so that you are able to improve on this for next time. Most companies nowadays are so busy and preoccupied with what’s happening internally the majority of them will send you a generic email sent from a robot saying they aren’t able to provide feedback. But if you don’t ask, you don’t get so it’s always worth asking anyway!

  1. Improve yourself

As cliché as this may sound if you’ve all of a sudden got a lot of time on your hands while you’re looking for the right job, why not make the most of the time you have? Research the field you are interested in going into thoroughly, learn as much about it as you can to put you ahead of the game! Learn a new skill, try a new hobby, start reading more or take up some work experience at a local SME in a role that interests you. Any work experience that you can get in the career that you want will be valuable to you and it gives you more to speak about in interviews.

  1. Use the resources at C+P available to you!

Now, I know this might be a bit tricky for you graduates that no longer live in Birmingham, but if you do still happen to be in brum, not many graduates seem to be aware that the friendly Careers and Placements team here at Aston are here to support you for up to 3 years after you graduate…so make use of them while you can! Get CV/cover letter advice, visit a careers consultant to figure out your career options, attend interview or assessment centre workshops. There’s a whole variety of help waiting for you so don’t be afraid to use it.

By Hayley Bristow

 

 

An insight into a postgraduate alumni researcher at Aston Business School

My name is Nafees Zahir, a recent graduate in, BSc Business and Management from Aston University. I had the opportunity of undertaking a role as a postgraduate researcher within the

nafeesAston Business Schools Alumni relations team.

I am currently in my final week here at the Business School as a postgraduate Alumni Researcher. The role has been very exciting and enjoyable. I have worked within a vibrant team who are at the forefront of forging relationships with Alumni graduates and ensuring they are maintained.

The role has involved conducting research and communicating with a cohort of recent alumni graduates ahead of the FT Masters in Management and Masters in Finance rankings. The role has provided me with an insight as to why students from all over the world want to come and study their postgraduate qualification here at Aston Business School.  From day one I was provided with the responsibility of ensuring tasks that came my way were delivered on time and to schedule. This incorporated updating senior management of progress and sharing my opinion in order to increase ranking figures.

The role has involved me developing my time management skills, by ensuring I plan my day accordingly to the priority of the tasks. My communication skills were crucial for this role as it involved communicating with alumni who were based overseas and to get the message across was crucial. I realised that Alumni students have a strong connection with Aston University and what to give back in any way or form they can that will help contribute to the success of the university, moving forward.  The role was varied in terms of being prepared for the resistance of change as I had to identify a number of tactics in order to reach the Alumni students.

I identified that calling them would be better as I would be able to relay my message clearly. I was unable to reach a number of Alumni to which then I took to social media and was able to reach them via email and LinkedIn.

I would like to thank the Alumni relations team for the opportunity. It has been a pleasure working with you all over the last few weeks.

 

Charity training worth £1100 is now free to current students

Thanks to a generous grant, Child.org will be able to offer Charity Apprentice 2017 for free to students who dream of working to change the world for the better.

Thousands dream of working one day for a charity. After all, it’s hard to name another job where you have the chance to eradicate global poverty, cure cancer or simply have a direct positive impact in the lives of millions of people.

But charity jobs can be notoriously difficult to apply for. Students often report confusion about what charity jobs are available, where to apply for them and how to gain relevant experience. Many more find it impossible to get their foot on the career ladder without having to work for free in unpaid internships for months on end.

Meanwhile charities find recent graduates lack basic knowledge of how charities operate and simple skills in fundraising and communications. Too many applicants gush about their desire to change the world, but have no clear idea of how they can use their skills to do that and what they might offer to the charity.

To solve this problem, the international development charity Child.org have spent two years working with experts from across the sector to develop Charity Apprentice: a course that anyone can do in their spare time to gain entry-level charity skills. A combination of online learning and fun real-life challenges, Charity Apprentice is a must for anyone considering a career in the sector and covers topics ranging from fundraising regulation and marketing to sustainable development and effective advocacy.

Anna Donaldson, a Charity Apprentice in 2016, said:

“Before I even completed my year as a Charity Apprentice, I had my first paid job offer in the charity sector and the opportunity to work for something really worthwhile that I am incredibly proud of. The course transformed my view of the charity sector and made me realise how important it was to be a part of it in a time when compassion for a cause is rarely enough to make the impact you want to make. Access to invaluable resources, constant encouragement and support and a fantastic opportunity to work in Kenya has not only clarified what impact I’d like to make in my lifetime, it has opened up the opportunity for me to get paid to do it.”

The course fees for a year are priced at £1100, but thanks to a generous grant from the Sofronie foundation, Child.org are able to offer free course places to students and recent graduates for the first time this year.

To see a full course outline and apply for your place, visit charityapprentice.org.

As this opportunity is provided by a third party and Aston do not have any relationship with them other than advertising, we suggest you do your own research before you sign up.

 

Civil Aviation Authority; CAA; Your Chance to Help Keep Our Skies Safe

Who are the CAA?

When each and everyone one of you heads to a UK airport, which organisation is it that ensures the aviation industry is keeping you safe by meeting safety standards? The answer is the Civil Aviation Authority – or CAA for short.  This article looks at both the vital and fundamental activities and services carried out by the CAA, how it prepares itself for future growth of the industry, and how that delivers new opportunities for recent graduates.

The enormity of the CAA’s remit is extraordinary, both in importance and volume.  A few examples:

  • Over 250 million people fly in or out of UK every year
  • The CAA processes over 15,000 licence issues and ratings every year
  • The CAA’s international team has worked with over 140 countries including Thailand, Kuwait and Brunei.

The CAA has around since 1972, when established by Parliament as the independent specialist aviation regulator. Now, there is an opportunity to be part of the next era of regulation, and not least innovation. There are a number of key areas of activity regarding technology, automation and simple growth in demand, and all of which now seek new energy, insight and passion to shape the future of the organisation.

We have entry level roles in Finance, IT, Policy, International, Shared Services and SARG – the Safety & Air Regulation Group – the very heartbeat of the CAA, with very real possibilities of building careers throughout.

Intern Avenue survey their candidate base to determine what you find important in a job. The most frequent answers are:

  • Help to learn and progress in the role is paramount. Well, the CAA programme is a fine example of that investment in new talent.  Each hire will enjoy a carefully planned rotation around the various aspects of departmental functions and outputs, giving you the opportunity to look and learn at the diverse and varied aspects of CAA life, and potentially seek a way forward!
  • A great working environment. The Gatwick office is an attractive, airy open plan space with a superb atrium, which features not just an Airbus ’Sharklet’ wingtip, but also their very own windsock. Pretty unique!
  • Inspiring people – The CAA combines a group of hugely passionate people (and yes, aviation is undoubtedly one of those passions) keen to grow, develop and nurture new talent to be part of that journey.

Deadline for applications is the 28th of November with early applications recommended. This is your chance to make a difference to the lives of everyone affected by aviation, straight out of university. Don’t miss out, apply now!

The Civil Service Fast Stream

The Civil Service Fast Stream is not your usual career path, and certainly not one I planned as an Aston student finishing off my placement with Deutsche Bank and completing a degree in International Business and Economics. I envisaged a role in Finance or Consultancy (thinking really outside of the box) and although I had a passing interest in politics, moving into the public sector was not on my radar. For those not too familiar with how Government operates, the Civil Service is an A-political organisation that supports the elected Government of the day, and staffs departments such as the Treasury, the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence. These departments work with Government Ministers to design and implement policy that impact on normal people.

In my 13 months I’ve worked on the economic analysis of HS2 at the Department for Transport, negotiated with Treasury on funding deals for the NHS at the Department of Health and am now on secondment to the Independent Police Complaints Commission. I’ve had friends work on the renewal of nuclear submarines, legal aid policy and another former Astoner is currently co-ordinating British aid efforts in central Africa (so some pretty serious stuff!).richard-blog-4

The Civil Service is placing huge amounts of resource in to increasing diversity within its ranks, and that includes broadening the number of entry points on to the programme to include apprenticeships, and a greater focus on professions such as Communications, Finance and the Government Economics Service. There is loads more information on every scheme at www.faststream.gov.uk.

The application process has been streamlined to make it slightly more transparent and less tilted towards Oxbridge applicants. The initial application is now a simple registration, followed by an e-tray, video interview and an Assessment Centre that challenges you to think analytically, demonstrate leadership and work well with others.

I can only speak for my own experience but I have found the Civil Service to be an incredibly warm and interesting place to work. When the decisions you make have the potential to impact on so many people that is a really great privilege, and one that isn’t available on many Grad schemes. My only advice for successfully completing the process is to be yourself, get to know the Civil Service Competency Framework and take the plunge and apply.

richard-blog-1The deadline for applications is the 30th November, and if you have any questions do get in touch at richard.parker@faststream.civilservice.gov.uk

 

 

Hi.

My name is Austin, Marketing assistant at ClickMechanic. The business has been operating since 2012, with huge growth and success, as they offer the digital solution to car repairs. A walk back from the garage in the rain has been transformed to feet up on the sofa with your car fixed right on your drive.

click-mechanic-first-image

Deciding what to do after University is a daunting decision and one that many students can take a long time to decide upon. The usual path for most students is to take the corporate option however one option that often gets overlooked is considering a career in a startup.

Here are 5 unique challenges and opportunities within a digital start-up:
1- IMPACT

Feeling your work have a real impact on the business is a wonderful feeling: One that drives people, helps them cope, or just brightens their day. The application of your skills and knowledge is satisfying and being able to see a positive change in the business from it is incredibly uplifting.

 

2- Freedom
The flexibility of work life whilst being part of a close knit team is a great asset to startups. You won’t be shackled to a desk in stuffy clothes: You will be , in some cases literally, bouncing ideas off each other. It allows plenty of in-office fun which you definitely wouldn’t get as part of a large corporation.

austin

3- Learning
There is almost constant learning as you expand your range or master your depths. It is always a fresh challenge to figure out the latest software and master it. As your confidence grows, people will come to depend on you. You will be a sought after individual as a master of a field.

 

4- Creativity

Finding interesting pathways to success is a key aspect of being an entrepreneur, so long as corners aren’t cut, then it will generally work out. Thinking outside the box and defying expectations are great ways to gain credibility as an innovator. My personal advice is that a collection of novel ideas is better than one generic view.
5- Responsibility
Having the opportunity to be part of something incredible comes with responsibility. You are trusted to perform because you want the business to do well, not for your next paycheck. You gotta believe, Que the X-files

Whether you are starting a business with friends, or just looking for exciting opportunities; it’s an awesome place to be.

lastimg

Thanks,

Austin

If you are interested in working for a start-up or SME, you can search for vacancies on Aston Futures by following these simple steps:

  1. Login to Aston Futures
  2. Select the ‘Jobs’ tab
  3. Then click ‘STEP 1: Search for Jobs’
  4. Select company sizes

You can also find out more at www.aston.ac.uk/sme

Applying for My Placement

For a long time I had considered continuing my education and qualifying as a Speech and Language therapist, but as it is specialised I was not sure whether it would be the right path for me. So, I decided to try my best efforts to secure a placement within the NHS under a Speech and Language Therapy (SLT) department.

Finding a placement in SLT and not being on the course was difficult, I must have contacted every SLT department, in every city, from Leicester to York and none would take me on. I attended one of the placement fairs at Aston’s Student Union and there is where I made my first contact with a Speech and Language assistant from Birmingham Community Healthcare (BCHC). She gave me a brief overview of the role and this coincided with the research I had done pushed me into applying for a student placement with BCHC.

The time between contact and receiving an interview was just under a few months and I considered this opportunity as my last shot so, it was pretty nerve wrecking. The nerves did not by any means end there, as there was little information about competencies and previous student interviews with SLT, there was only so much I could prepare for the interview.

I was interviewed by a therapist and an assistant who were really friendly and the first few questions were generic interview ones focusing on skills such as communication and team working. There were a few scenario based questions that did catch me off guard but it was just a case of applying the skills I had to the role I was applying for.  When I left the interview I felt that I had babbled on too much and did not do well, so it was to my surprise when I got a phone call later from my interviewer saying I had secured a placement!